How to Set Financial Goals | Step-by-Step Guide

Learn to build wealth and navigate your financial future by setting solid and achievable goals with our step-by-step guide. Covers everything from prioritizing objectives and creating SMART goals to budgeting and progress tracking.

How to Set Financial Goals

How to Set Financial Goals

Here, we’re gonna talk about something critical to your financial future: How to Set Financial Goals. I can’t stress enough how important this is, especially if you’re just getting started on your financial journey.

First off, you’ve got to understand why goals are so important. See, a goal is more than just a wish; it’s a plan with a deadline. You can’t just say, “I want to be rich,” and expect it to happen. No, you’ve got to set concrete, achievable objectives to make your way toward financial freedom.

So, step number one: Determine Your Priorities. Ask yourself what’s important to you. Are you looking to pay off student loans? Maybe you’re dreaming about buying your first home or you want to start investing. Identify these priorities because they will be the cornerstone of your financial plan.

Step number two: Make Your Goals SMART. That’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Instead of saying “I want to save money,” say “I want to save $10,000 in two years for a down payment on a house.” See the difference? One is a wish; the other is a SMART goal.

Next, step number three: Break It Down. A goal like saving $10,000 may seem overwhelming, but not when you break it down. That’s about $417 per month or about $100 per week. When you break it down like this, it seems a lot more manageable, doesn’t it?

Step four: Create a Budget. I know, I know, nobody likes that word, but listen to me, a budget is just a plan for your money. Take some time to see where your money is going each month and allocate funds toward your goals. Trust me, if you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll wonder where it went!

Moving on to step number five: Set Up Automatic Transfers. Make achieving your goals foolproof. Set up automatic transfers to a savings or investment account dedicated to your financial goal. This way, you’re paying yourself first, and you don’t even have to think about it.

Step six: Track Your Progress. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Regularly check-in to see how you’re doing. Are you on track? Do you need to make adjustments? It’s much easier to course-correct now than to realize you’re off track years down the road.

And finally, step number seven: Celebrate the Wins, Learn from the Losses. Hit a milestone? Celebrate it! It’s important to acknowledge your hard work. But also, don’t get discouraged if you have setbacks. Life happens. What’s important is that you learn from it and continue moving forward.

That’s it, folks! Seven steps to set financial goals and start making your way toward financial freedom. So what are you waiting for? Get started today, and take control of your money and your life.

Lesson Resource

Categories Budgeting, Earning Money, Financial Planning, Investing and Financial Planning, Saving Money
Tags , , , ,
Leave a comment

How to Endorse a Check for Mobile Deposit

Learn how to endorse a check for mobile deposit with our step-by-step guide. Find out how major banks like Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citibank, and others like Venmo make it easy to deposit checks right from your smartphone, saving you time and hassle.

How to Endorse a Check for Mobile Deposit

How to Endorse a Check for Mobile Deposit

Here we will discuss how to endorse a check for mobile deposit. Even in our digital age, knowing how to properly manage paper checks is essential for a smooth financial life. Understanding the correct way to deal with them can save you both time and stress.

Now, why is this important? Well, you might be a student receiving a scholarship check, or maybe you’ve just started your first job and your employer pays you with a check. Whatever the reason, the point is, checks are still around, and they’re not going away anytime soon.

What is Mobile Deposit?
Before we dive into the “how,” let’s clarify what mobile deposit is. Mobile deposit is a feature offered by most banks that allows you to deposit a check into your bank account by taking a picture of it with your smartphone. That’s right, no more trips to the bank just to deposit a check! You can do it all from the comfort of your home, or wherever you happen to be.

The Basics of Endorsing a Check
So, what does it mean to “endorse” a check? When you endorse a check, you’re essentially signing the back of it to approve its deposit or cashing. This is a security measure that banks use to ensure that the check gets into the right hands. If a check is not properly endorsed, the bank can refuse to process it.

Steps to Endorse a Check for Mobile Deposit
Alright, now let’s get into it. Here are the steps to endorse a check for mobile deposit:

Step 1: Flip the Check Over
First things first, flip that check over. You’ll find a designated area on the back of the check for your endorsement. It’s usually marked with lines or a box, along with the phrase “Do not write, stamp, or sign below this line.”

Step 2: Sign Your Name
Grab a pen—make sure it’s blue or black ink—and sign your name as it appears on the front of the check. This is crucial; your signature must match the name on the front of the check and your bank account for the deposit to go through.

Step 3: Add “For Mobile Deposit Only”

This is a step that people often overlook, and it can cause some delays. Right under your signature, write “For Mobile Deposit Only.” This ensures that the check can only be deposited via mobile deposit and adds an extra layer of security.

Step 4: Include Your Account Number (Optional)

Some banks may also require you to write down your account number or bank name below the endorsement. This is not mandatory for all banks, but if your bank requires it, you’ll usually find this information in the mobile app’s deposit instructions.

Step 5: Take Pictures
Open your banking app and go to the mobile deposit section. Follow the app’s instructions to take clear pictures of both the front and back of your endorsed check.

Step 6: Confirm and Submit
Once you’ve taken the pictures, review them to make sure all the details are clear and legible. Confirm the deposit amount, and then hit submit. Voila! You’ve just endorsed and deposited a check using your mobile phone.

A Few Tips

  • Keep the check in a safe place until you’re certain that the deposit has cleared. Banks usually recommend holding onto it for at least two weeks.
  • Don’t try to deposit the check again, either through another mobile deposit or at a physical branch. Doing so could lead to fees or other complications.

Make sure to check your bank account to confirm that the deposit has been made successfully. If there’s any issue, contact your bank immediately.

Lesson Resource

Categories Banking
Tags , , ,
Leave a comment

How to Endorse a Check to Someone Else

A step-by-step guide how to endorse a check to another person. This easy-to-follow guide covers the process of signing the check to essential safety tips to make third-party check endorsements both simple and secure.

How to Endorse a Check to Someone Else

How to Endorse a Check to Someone Else

Here we’re going to talk about how to endorse a check to someone else. First things first, what is endorsing a check? Endorsing a check means signing the back of it in order to cash it, deposit it, or to do what we’re discussing today—give it to someone else, also known as a third-party endorsement.

So, you might be wondering why you would need to endorse a check over to someone else. Imagine you received a check as a birthday gift, but you owe your roommate for utilities. Instead of going to the bank, cashing the check, and then paying your roommate, you can simply endorse the check over to them. Saves you a step, doesn’t it?

Alright, here are the steps for how to properly endorse a check to another person:

First, Flip That Check Over. On the back of the check, you’ll find a section usually labeled ‘Endorse Here.’ Flip the check over and focus on this area.

Next, You’ll need to write, “Pay to the order of [Recipient’s Full Name].” Make sure to write legibly and use the full name of the person to whom you’re transferring the check. So if you’re paying Lisa Reynolds, you’ll write, “Pay to the order of Lisa Reynolds.”

Below the “Pay to the order of” line, you’ll need to sign your name. This is your endorsement, effectively giving your permission to transfer the funds to the third party.

Once you’ve properly endorsed the check, you can give it to the other person. Now, here’s the thing: that check is as good as cash. So, make sure you trust the person you’re giving it to.

Also, the recipient will also have to endorse the check. They will sign their name below your endorsement to accept it. From there, they can cash or deposit the check into their bank account.

Now, you might be asking, “Is this safe?” Well, there are risks involved. If the third party loses the check, it could be cashed by someone else. Also, some banks are wary of third-party checks due to the potential for fraud, so the recipient’s bank may hold the funds for an extended period or even refuse to accept the check. Always check with your bank’s policy on this and maybe give them a heads-up if you’re planning on endorsing a check to someone else.


  • Never Sign a Check and Leave the Rest Blank: If you only sign the check without adding the “Pay to the order of,” anyone can cash it. That’s risky business.
  • Contact Both Banks: To ensure a smooth transaction, contact both your bank and the recipient’s bank to make sure third-party checks are accepted.
  • Keep Records: Make a photocopy of the endorsed check or take a picture of it for your records. It’s always smart to have a paper trail.
  • Be Cautious: Don’t endorse checks to third parties unless you absolutely trust them. You’re basically giving them cash.

So that’s how you endorse a check to someone else. While we’re all busy using Venmo and cash apps these days, knowing how to properly endorse a check is still a useful life skill to have.

Lesson Resource

Categories Banking
Tags , , ,
Leave a comment

How to Endorse a Check | Beginners Guide

Learn step-by-step how to properly endorse a check. Covers everything from basic tips to methods like blank, restrictive, and third-party endorsements. Essential advice to ensure your money lands safely in your bank account.

How to Endorse a Check

How to Endorse a Check

Hello. Today we’re diving into a topic that’s important for anyone dealing with checks and money. How to endorse a check.

So, what does it mean to endorse a check? Well, when someone writes a check made out to you, endorsing it is essentially how you give the bank permission to transfer that money into your account. Think of it as your seal of approval.

Here are some important tips. Always use a pen with blue or black ink. No crayons, no red ink, no invisible ink, okay? Banks are old-fashioned; they like things clear and legible.

Also, make sure your endorsement matches the name on the “Pay to the Order of” line. If your name is misspelled or uses a nickname, you’ll likely need to endorse it as it appears and then also endorse it with the correct spelling of your name.

Steps to Endorse a Check
So, Let’s break it down into steps.

First things first, you want to flip that check over to the back. There will be a few lines or a section that says “Endorse Here.” This is where you’ll be doing your endorsing.

Blank Endorsement

Now, the most straightforward way to endorse a check is to simply sign your name on it. But—and this is a big but—once you’ve signed that check, anyone can cash it. If you lose it, well, you’re out of luck. So a basic endorsement is fine if you’re standing in the bank, about to hand it over, but there are other options if you need to hold onto that check for a while.

Restrictive Endorsement

A more secure way to endorse your check is with a restrictive endorsement. Write “For Deposit Only” along with your bank account number and then sign your name underneath. This means the check can only be deposited into that specific account.

Another type of restrictive endorsement is to write only “deposit only” without the bank account number. While this approach is generally less secure, most banks will still honor the instruction and limit the check’s use to depositing it into your account.

Third-Party Endorsement

Let’s say you want to give the check to someone else. You can write Pay to the order of “Name”, with “name” being the person you want to give the check to, and then sign your name below. Just know, this makes the check as good as cash, so only do this with people you absolutely trust.

When you are done, here is a suggestion. Take a snapshot or make a copy of the check—both sides—before you hand it over, for your records. Finally, always—always—check your bank account to make sure the funds have been properly deposited.

Lesson Resource

Categories Banking
Tags , , ,
Leave a comment

How to Balance a Checkbook | Step-by-Step Guide

Learn the essential skill of balancing a checkbook, or checkbook register, to reconcile and take control of your personal finances. A step-by-step guide for aligning your financial records with your bank’s, helping you avoid errors, dodge fees, and detect fraud. This video teaches you the step-by-step process.

How to Balance a Checkbook

How to Balance a Checkbook

Here, we’re talking about a fundamental skill everyone should have: How to balance a checkbook. Now, you might be thinking, “Who even uses checks anymore?” or “I do everything digitally, so why does this matter?” But listen up, because it’s not just about checks; it’s about mastering your money and knowing where every single dollar is going.

First off, let’s start with the basics. What is a checkbook, and why should you even bother balancing it? A checkbook is simply a record of your financial transactions. This includes checks you’ve written, debit card transactions, automatic bill payments, deposits, and withdrawals. Balancing your checkbook means ensuring that your records match the bank’s records, and this, is your first step to taking control of your finances.

Now, why is this important? Errors can happen. You might forget you made a transaction, or the bank might make an error—yes, banks can mess up too. If you’re not keeping track, you could end up with overdraft fees, or worse, you could be a victim of fraud and not even know it.

Alright, so let’s break this down step-by-step.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials
You’ll need your checkbook register, or if you’re doing this digitally, open up your budgeting app or spreadsheet. Also, get a hold of your most recent bank statement. If you have multiple accounts, make sure you’re looking at the right one.

For this example, we’ll work with a simplified version of a checkbook register. Your actual checkbook or digital app may have more columns or categories.

**Sample Checkbook Register Before Balancing**

Step 2: Start with the Bank’s Ending Balance
Look at your most recent bank statement and find the ending balance. Write this number down; you’ll need it as your starting point.

Your bank statement ending balance is $2,000. Write this down.

Step 3: Add Deposits and Income
Your bank might not yet know about some checks you’ve deposited or income that’s come in, especially if you’ve made some transactions near the end of the statement period. Add those to your ending balance. Make sure you’re not counting anything twice!

Add any deposits that haven’t cleared yet. In this case, it’s the $500 freelance income.

New balance: $2,000 (Bank ending balance) + $500 (Freelance Income) = $2,500

Step 4: Subtract Payments and Withdrawals
Now it’s time to subtract any checks you’ve written, online payments, automatic bill pays, or any other withdrawals that might not yet have cleared the bank. Make sure you’re also accounting for any fees.

Now subtract payments and withdrawals that haven’t cleared. These are your rent for $800 and your phone bill for $50.

New balance: $2,500 (Previous Balance) – $800 (Rent) – $50 (Phone Bill) = $1,650

Step 5: Compare Your Numbers
By now, you should have a new balance based on your calculations. Compare this to the current balance in your checkbook or budgeting app. The two should match. If they don’t, you’ve got some homework to do.

At this point, update your checkbook register with the new balance and see if it matches your own records.

**Sample Checkbook Register After Balancing**

Now your checkbook register says $1,650, and your calculated balance is also $1,650. They match, which is what we want.

Step 6: Reconcile and Troubleshoot
Go through each transaction, line by line, and make sure everything lines up. If you find an error, correct it. If everything matches, congratulations! Your checkbook is balanced. If not, go back through the steps and try to find where things went off track. Check for transposed numbers, forgotten transactions, or potential bank errors.

If there was a discrepancy, you’d go line-by-line comparing your checkbook register to your bank statement to find where the error occurred. Correct any errors to make sure your balances align.

Step 7: Make It a Habit
Don’t just do this once and forget about it. Make it a habit to balance your checkbook at least once a month, or even more often if you’re really active with your account. The more regularly you do it, the easier it’ll be.

So there you have it, the steps to balancing a checkbook. This is a foundational skill for taking control of your finances. If you can master this, you’re well on your way to being the boss of your own money. Remember, every dollar has a job, and it’s your job to know what that is.

Lesson Resource

Categories Banking
Tags , , ,
Leave a comment

What is a Checking Account? Beginners Guide

Learn the basics of understanding checking accounts, covering everything from core components to digital banking features. Also, gain essential tips on avoiding overdrafts and making smart financial choices.

What is a Checking Account

Understanding Checking Accounts

Understanding checking accounts is more than just a financial basic; it’s key to managing your money effectively, making informed decisions, and navigating the modern world with ease. So let’s break it down.

So What is a Checking Account? A checking account is a type of bank account designed for everyday financial transactions. Unlike a savings account, which is more for storing money long-term, a checking account is your go-to for daily spending. It’s where your paychecks get deposited, where you pull money from to pay your bills, and where you swipe your debit card for everyday expenses.

Core Components of a Checking Account
So, when you open a checking account, what exactly are you getting? Well, you’ll usually be provided with a few key things:

  • Account Number: This is your unique identifier within the bank. It’s like your bank account’s own social security number.
  • Routing Number: This number identifies your bank and is used for things like setting up direct deposits and making electronic transfers.
  • Debit Card: This is your physical key to your checking account. It’s used for making purchases and withdrawing cash at ATMs.
  • Checks: Some people hardly use them anymore, but they still exist. Checks offer another method to make payments directly from your checking account.

How a Checking Account Operates
How does a checking account function day-to-day?

  • Deposits: This is how money enters your account. It could be your paycheck, a gift from Grandma, or a transfer from another account.
  • Withdrawals: This is how money leaves your account. Whether you’re using your debit card, writing a check, or making a direct payment online, this action decreases your account balance.
  • Transfers: This is the movement of money between different accounts. You can transfer money from checking to savings, to investment accounts, and so on.

Clearing and Settlement
Here’s something most people don’t think about but is key to understanding checking accounts. When you make a transaction, it goes through a process called ‘clearing’ and ‘settlement.’ Clearing is where the transaction details are confirmed, and settlement is the actual moving of money from one place to another. These are automated processes, but they’re essential to how your checking account operates.

Briefly, let’s touch on overdrafts. If you spend more than you have in your checking account, you’ll go into overdraft. This is essentially a short-term loan from the bank, and it usually comes with fees. Some checking accounts offer overdraft protection, which may lessen the fees, but it’s still something you’ll want to avoid.

Checking Accounts and Digital Banking
In the digital age, checking accounts have adapted to include mobile and online banking features. This allows you to check your balance, make transfers, and even deposit checks using a mobile app. While this doesn’t change the fundamental nature of a checking account, it does make managing one much more convenient.

And there you have it. That’s what a checking account is, broken down into its most essential elements. Understanding this is foundational knowledge for anyone aiming to manage their personal finances effectively, so make sure you’re well-acquainted with how your checking account works.

Lesson Resource

Categories Banking
Tags , ,
Leave a comment

How to Withdraw Money from an ATM

Learn the basics of how to withdraw money from the ATM machine in English. Includes tips to safely and efficiently withdraw money from an ATM, from inserting your debit card correctly to protecting your PIN

How to Withdraw Money from an ATM

How to Withdraw Money from an ATM

Here, we’re going to be covering something that might seem basic, but is important: How to Withdraw Money from an ATM. You may think you’ve got it down, but it never hurts to cover best practices.

First off, you’ll need to insert your debit card into the ATM. Make sure the chip goes in first, that’s how most machines are designed. Once your card is in, you’ll be prompted to enter your Personal Identification Number, also known as your PIN. Here’s where you want to be extra cautious: always use your other hand to shield the keypad when you’re typing in your number.

After you’ve entered your PIN, you’ll see a menu of options on the screen. Go ahead and select ‘Withdraw Money’. If you have multiple accounts tied to your card, like a savings account and a checking account, the machine will ask you which account you’d like to withdraw from. Typically, you’ll want to use your checking account for this.

Now you need to enter the amount of cash you want to withdraw. Be mindful here—only take out what you actually need. You’ll then see a confirmation screen. Sometimes it will display any additional fees that may apply. Hit ‘Confirm’ if everything looks good. The machine will dispense your cash, and usually it will offer you a receipt as well.

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to take your debit card back. I can’t stress this enough; you don’t want to leave it behind.

So that’s it—those are the basic steps to safely and successfully withdrawing money from an ATM. Simple, but crucial for managing your daily finances.

Lesson Resource

Categories Banking
Tags , ,
Leave a comment

How to Open a Bank Account

Learn the essentials of opening your first bank account, whether you’re a student, headed to college or starting a job. This video offers a guide on choosing the right bank, understanding account types, mastering digital banking, and exploring top financial apps for budgeting and investing.

How to Open a Bank Account

How to Open a Bank Account

Hello everyone. Today we’re discussing a rite of passage in the financial world: opening your very first bank account. Whether you’re a student, off to college, gearing up to start your first job, or just taking control of your finances, this is for you!

The Importance of a Bank Account:
First off, why bother? Well, having a bank account is about more than just having a place to stash your money. It’s about managing your funds, starting a savings habit, and gearing up for financial independence. It’s the first step to understanding how money works in the adult world.

Types of Bank Accounts:
There are a couple of main types of accounts that you might want to consider:

Regular Checking Accounts: This is the account you’ll use most often. From depositing your paychecks, paying bills, to buying that concert ticket, this is where the action happens.

Savings Accounts: Think of this as your financial vault. It’s where you put money away for future goals, emergencies, or just to earn a little interest over time.

Now, the big question – Traditional Bank or Online Bank?
Brick-and-mortar banks are everywhere, and they offer the benefit of personal interaction. Having issues? Just walk in and talk. But online banks, with their reduced overhead costs, often provide better interest rates and fewer fees. Plus, with everything moving digital, the convenience of handling your finances from your phone or laptop is undeniable.  Though brick-and-mortar also offer online banking services along with their traditional banking.

What You Need to Open an Account:

  • Identification: Most banks will need two forms. This could be a driver’s license, passport, or even your student ID.
  • Social Security Number: Absolutely non-negotiable. It’s for verification and tax reasons.
  • Proof of Address: If you’re in a dorm, a letter from your college might work. Otherwise, utility bills or your lease can do the trick.
  • Initial Deposit: Not always, but some banks might ask you to deposit a certain amount to kick things off.

But don’t rush to the first bank you see. Do your homework. Browse bank websites and compare features.
Look for student or youth discounts or benefits. Remember, fees can eat into your money. So, whether it’s monthly charges, ATM fees, or transaction charges, stay informed.

Alright, once you’ve chosen your bank and opened an account, you’re not done! Here’s where the real work starts. Get familiar with the mobile app or online banking platform. They’re packed with features!
Activate email or text alerts for things like low balances or large withdrawals. It keeps you in the loop without logging in every time.

Your debit card is a direct link to your funds. Handle it with care. Memorize your PIN. Don’t write it down or share it. Also, track your purchases. This helps with budgeting and ensures there’s no unauthorized spending. Now, there are plenty of third-party apps out there that link to your bank account. These apps can help you budget, save, invest, and even split bills with roommates or friends.

Lastly, here’s an important suggestion for you: make it a weekly ritual to review your bank account. Ensure you know what’s coming in and going out. This simple habit can be the difference between a comfortable bank balance and nasty overdraft fees.

And with that, we’ve covered the basics of opening and managing your first bank account! Remember, the choices you make now set the tone for your financial future. So, educate yourself, ask questions, and be proactive. Your future self will thank you.

Lesson Resource

Categories Banking, Earning Money
Tags ,
Leave a comment

Budgeting for School Supplies | Step-by-Step Guide

A guide to mastering budgeting for school supplies for students by understanding financial priorities, tracking expenses, and seeking cost-saving strategies.

Budgeting for School Supplies

Budgeting for School Supplies

Today, we’re venturing into the world of budgeting, using something students all need: school supplies.

Now, let’s talk about budgeting. Think of it like the GPS for your money. You wouldn’t start a road trip without knowing your destination, right? Budgeting helps you reach your financial goals without unexpected detours.

First off, you need to figure out how much money you have available. This could be from your allowance, savings, a part-time job, or maybe from your parents. Once you have that number, we can start our budgeting financial journey.

Grab a piece of paper, or open up a note on your device, and jot down everything you might need for the school year. Yep, from those crucial textbooks to that super cool backpack with all the pockets.

Got your list? Great.  Now, without even realizing it, you’ve already set your financial priorities. There are things on that list you absolutely need, things that would be nice to have, and things that are, let’s admit it, just for the swag. This is the essence of budgeting: knowing what’s a must-have, what’s a luxury, and what falls somewhere in between.

Before you start buying, here’s a pro tip: do a little detective work. Compare prices online, consider if second-hand options are feasible, and always keep an eye out for student discounts. A little research can save you big bucks.

And here’s another golden rule: keep track of what you spend. Every time you buy something, note it down. This will prevent you from accidentally overspending and will give you a clear picture of your finances.

Now, I know things don’t always go as planned. Maybe that art set is pricier than you thought. That’s okay! Budgeting isn’t about sticking rigidly to a plan; it’s also about adapting when needed.

Also, remember you’re not on this journey alone. Talk to your friends and classmates. There might be opportunities to buy in bulk and share costs or swap items. Sharing is, after all, caring (and saving!).

Once all your shopping’s done, take a step back. Look at what you spent and compare it to your initial list. This reflection is crucial because each time you budget, you get better at it.

So, remember this isn’t just about getting ready for school. It’s about preparing you for life. Budgeting is a skill, and like any skill, the more you practice, the better you get. And remember: every dollar has a purpose. Make sure it serves you well.

Lesson Resource

Categories Budgeting, Saving Money
Tags , , ,
Leave a comment

Student Loans 101 | The Basics Every Student Should Know

Learn about student loans, distinguishing between federal and private options, and understanding repayment strategies. Gain knowledge on making informed decisions for education financing and avoiding potential pitfalls.

Student Loans 101

Student Loans 101 – The Basics

Student loans are often the first significant financial decision that many people make. They’re seen as an investment in your future—a way to pay for a degree that will lead to a well-paying job. But what many young people don’t realize is that they can also turn into a huge burden.

A student loan is money you borrow specifically to pay for college, and they come with interest rates and terms for repayment. You can get student loans from the federal government or from private sources like banks, credit unions, and even from some colleges themselves.

Now, federal loans typically have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment terms than private loans. The interest rates are fixed, meaning they don’t change over time. Private loans, on the other hand, may have variable rates that can increase over time, and the terms are set by the lender, not the government.

Different types of federal student loans

There are three main types: Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, and Direct PLUS loans.

Direct Subsidized loans are for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The government pays the interest on these loans while you’re in school, and for the first six months after you leave school.

Direct Unsubsidized loans, however, accrue interest while you’re still in school. This means you’ll owe more than you originally borrowed when you start repayment. These loans are available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

Direct PLUS loans are available to graduate or professional students, and parents of dependent undergraduate students. These loans have higher interest rates and origination fees.

But here’s a key point – you should always exhaust your federal loan options before even thinking about private student loans. Federal loans offer more protections and flexible repayment options.

The standard repayment schedule for federal student loans is 10 years. However, there are also income-driven repayment plans, which cap your monthly payments at a certain percentage of your income. If you’re having trouble making payments, look into these options. Do not just stop paying – that’s a fast track to default, and you do not want to default on a student loan.

Should you even take on student loans in the first place?

My general advice is: no. If at all possible, try to avoid student loans. Look for scholarships, grants, work-study opportunities, or consider starting at a community college.

Remember, debt is always a risk. It’s a risk that the degree will pay off, that you’ll be able to make the payments, that you won’t face financial hardship. Student loans are no exception.

In closing, let me leave you with this. Don’t make the mistake of viewing student loans as the only way to achieve your educational goals. Yes, education is a valuable investment in your future, but it’s not worth a lifetime of debt.

Before taking out any loan, make sure to weigh all your options, understand the terms, and have a clear plan for repayment. And if you’re already in student loan debt, remember, there is always a way out. It may require sacrifice and hard work, but it’s possible.

Lesson Resource

This material has been prepared for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or investment advice.

Categories Debt & Credit, Education
Leave a comment

What is the W4 Tax Form?

Learn what the IRS W-4 Form is used for and its impact on your paycheck and annual taxes. Insights for new employees on accurate form completion, the significance of updating it with life changes, and strategies to manage yearly tax obligations effectively.

What is the W4 Tax Form?

W4 Tax Form

A very important document that you’ll encounter if you have a job in the US is the IRS W-4 Form, also known as the Employee’s Withholding Certificate.

Why should you care about the W-4 form? Simple. It directly impacts how much money you take home in your paycheck and how much you pay in taxes. That’s right – this form is all about your hard-earned money, so it’s worth understanding it fully.

When you start a new job, one of the first things your employer will ask you to do is fill out a W-4 form. This form is used by your employer to determine the amount of income tax to withhold from your paycheck. The information you provide on the form is crucial because if you end up having too much tax withheld, you will get a tax refund at the end of the year. However, if you have too little tax withheld, you might end up owing money when you file your tax return.

Importance of updating your W-4 form
Life changes, and so do your taxes. For instance, if you have a child, get married, get a second job, or go through a divorce, you need to update your W-4 form. Why? Because these changes can significantly impact your tax situation.

Also, it’s crucial to understand is that the W-4 form doesn’t dictate how much you’ll pay in taxes – it only determines when you’ll pay them. Whether you get a refund or owe money at tax time doesn’t change your overall tax bill. It just shifts when you pay.

However, there are potential penalties for under-withholding. If too little is withheld, you will owe taxes at the end of the year and potentially face a penalty for under-withholding. If too much is withheld, you will receive a refund.

The goal for many people is to adjust their W-4 so the amount withheld from their paychecks will come as close as possible to their actual tax liability for the year. However, some prefer to have more withheld and receive a refund as a form of forced savings. Conversely, others might prefer to have less withheld to receive more money in their paychecks during the year, understanding that they will owe money come tax time.

So how do you fill out a W-4 form? Be sure to check out our video on how to fill out the form.

This material has been prepared for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or investment advice.

Categories Taxes
Tags ,
Leave a comment

What is Accounting? An Introduction.

Learn the core principles, definition, and purpose of accounting, including its role as the language of business, the fundamental accounting equation, and the distinction between financial and managerial accounting.

What is Accounting?

What is Accounting?

At its most basic level, accounting is the process of recording financial transactions pertaining to a business. It involves summarizing, analyzing, and reporting these transactions to oversight agencies, regulators, and tax collection entities. Sounds pretty simple, right? But there’s so much more to it than that.

Accounting is often referred to as the “language of business” because it communicates the financial health of a business to its stakeholders. This includes investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Without accounting, it would be nearly impossible for these stakeholders to make informed decisions about the business.

Essentially, accounting revolves around two basic things: revenues and expenses. Revenues are the earnings from the company’s business activities, while expenses are the costs incurred to earn these revenues. The difference between revenues and expenses is the net income or loss, which shows if a business is profitable or not.

Accounting also involves dealing with assets, liabilities, and equity. Assets are resources owned by the company that have future economic benefit, while liabilities are the company’s financial obligations or debts. Equity, often called owner’s equity or shareholder’s equity, represents the residual interest in the assets of an entity after deducting liabilities. So when you hear the accounting equation: Assets = Liabilities + Equity, it’s really just showing you where a company’s resources come from, either from creditors (liabilities) or from the owners (equity).

Now, in the world of accounting, there are two main types we need to discuss: financial accounting and managerial accounting. Financial accounting focuses on reporting an organization’s financial information to external parties, like investors and creditors. This is done through financial statements which include the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.

On the other hand, managerial accounting provides information for internal decision-makers within the business. This can include anything from cost analysis, to budgeting and forecasting. Managerial accounting helps managers make strategic decisions for the future of the company.

So you might be wondering, why is accounting so important? Well, solid accounting practices allow businesses to evaluate their performance, maintain accountability, comply with regulations, make informed decisions, plan for the future, and more. Not to mention, it’s vital for tax purposes.

For individuals, understanding accounting principles can help you keep track of your personal finances and make wise investment decisions. It can give you insights into how a business is doing before you decide to invest or become a part of it.

So that’s a guide to understanding what accounting is and why it matters. Remember, accounting is more than just numbers and balance sheets—it’s also a vital system that keeps businesses accountable and informs decision making both within the company and for external stakeholders.

Lesson Resource

Categories Accounting
Leave a comment